Christian Devotionals



The Power of Parental Love (1)
'Isaac...loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.' Genesis 25:28 NIV

The verdict is in: How your children turn out says more about your parenting skills than about their genes! The story of Esau and Jacob is a case study in favoritism, sibling rivalry, conditional acceptance and parental failure (Genesis 25-27). The twin boys are as different as chalk and cheese. Esau is the nature-loving sportsman type. Jacob is the quiet, home-loving, sensitive type. Personalities so diverse challenge our parenting skills. But the crucial difference wasn't between these two boys, it was between the parents, and between the parents and the boys. Isaac and Rebekah, as parents, were not united; they did not love unconditionally! 'Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau.' There's the crux of their family dysfunction! Dad 'loved' based on his conditions. If Esau brought home the venison, he was loved. There are basically three kinds of love: love if you meet my need; love because you have met my need and love in spite of, requiring nothing from you-God's kind of love, the love children need from parents. Selfish parenting requires children to constantly prove they're worthy of our love. Isaac's was love if-and because-Esau met his needs. But conditional love is like probation. Its temporary approval and earned favoritism leave our children feeling, 'If I don't do and be what you want, you'll reject me.' It breeds insecurity, inadequacy, anxiety, deceit, depression and self-destructive ideas in children. Grades, looks, gifts and abilities have nothing to do with love. Ironically though, your child's performance and attitude are likely to improve significantly from knowing they're loved unconditionally.

The Power of Parental Love (2)
'Isaac...loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.' Genesis 25:28 NIV

Isaac's favoritism triggered rivalry between his two sons. Now some rivalry is normal and healthy and is usually outgrown, but not in Esau's and Jacob's case. Time only turned their rivalry into hatred. It's tempting to blame Esau's explosive anger, but his brother Jacob was no innocent victim. Catching Esau at a moment of extreme hunger, Jacob tricked him into trading his inheritance for a bowl of stew. Later, pretending to be his brother, Jacob stole Esau's prophetic blessing from under their aging father's nose. Where does this kind of toxic rivalry originate? Is it about good kids versus bad kids? Not likely! 'Isaac loved Esau.' Esau got his father's love, leaving Jacob resentful over getting what he, Jacob, wanted but was denied. Jacob couldn't get the love he craved from his father so he grabbed what he could: the birthright and the blessing. When children are denied our love they become self-destructive, pursuing whatever love-substitutes they can get from us or other sources. Jacob wasn't born a 'bad boy'. The failure of Isaac's love and his favoritism towards Esau left Jacob feeling rejected, hating the brother he perceived to be his problem. And Esau didn't start out a 'bad boy' either. His mother Rebekah favored Jacob and helped concoct his 'stolen blessing scam'. Jacob wasn't loved by his father; Esau wasn't loved by his mother. Their parents weren't on the same page. Their favoritism led to one son becoming a fugitive and another programmed for a life of failure. Parents, consider carefully your power to shape your child's life!

The Power of Parental Love (3)
'Isaac...loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.' Genesis 25:28 NIV

Parental rejection drives children to two extremes: namely, rebellion and compliance. Children rebel out of their need for acceptance. Esau understood the principle of parentally-approved marriage. But he expressed his resentment against a scheming mother who failed to love him and helped cheat him out of his inheritance, and against an unloving father, by rebelling against the laws of God and family, and marrying unapproved women (Genesis 26:34). Perhaps Esau felt some perverse satisfaction when his mother was '...disgusted with living because of [Esau's] Hittite women...' (Genesis 27:46 NIV) When our kids drop out of school, run away, get pregnant, abandon church, take drugs, consume alcohol, engage in illicit sex and marry disastrously, in many cases it's saying, 'I'll show you!' Turning to compliance, Esau's rebellion didn't win Mum's love, so he tried the opposite technique with Dad, hoping that doing it Dad's way might make him loved. Recognizing Dad's approval of Jacob's marital choice, 'Esau...realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac...and married Mahalath', Abraham's granddaughter, but, alas, also Ishmael's daughter. (Genesis 28:8-9 NIV) A child at any age will do anything, however irrational or self-destructive, to earn and keep the love of parents! Did it work? No! Nothing he did could make his dad love him. The real problem was a self-centered parent who loved when it benefited him! Certainly, Jacob and Esau were adults, responsible for their own choices. But parents are like potters, with the power to mold their child's character, conduct, convictions and course of life. Parents, nothing matters more to your children in life than your unconditional love for them!

The Power of Parental Love (4)
'Isaac...loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.' Genesis 25:28 NIV

The prophet wrote, 'Our fathers sinned and are no more, and we bear their punishment.' (Lamentations 5:7 NIV) Parents, no responsibility is greater than yours! Flawed and limited though you are, God has put awesome power into your hands-the power to shape the next generation. Succeeding or failing in business means nothing compared to succeeding or failing as a parent. When you fail, your children often pay for the wrongs you did. Many of us have gazed adoringly into the cot of our innocent child and prayed, 'O God, wherever else I may fail, don't let it be here!' Answering that prayer is going to take three commitments from you. First, total investment in them. It will involve being at their football match, play or social event when you're exhausted, and participating in their spiritual, emotional and educational challenges. Secondly, loving them unconditionally. That means even when they don't want to become what you hoped for, you support them wholeheartedly for being what God designed them to be instead! Thirdly, unfailing encouragement. Whether they win or lose, are right or wrong, make you look good or embarrass you, you understand, console and encourage them to believe in their God-given potential by letting them know, 'I'll never reject you, no matter what happens.' What if it's late in the game, they've gone off track and you know you've blown it? Admit it to God-and them. They know you failed and they're generous forgivers! Ask (and believe) God to change you and them. God has promised to '...restore to you the years...' (Joel 2:25 NKJV) that failure and neglect have stolen.



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